***Disclaimer: This is a very early preview of the draft. Views will change after the combine and when Free agency begins. This preview will be updated after each of these events as well as just prior to the draft***
With the regular season coming to a close and twelve representatives entering the playoffs, those teams who did not make the tournament can focus on the offseason. The Cowboys will be selecting 18th in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft on April 25th (due to same record as the Steelers they will rotate between the 17th and 18th picks in each round; 18th first due to head-to-head tiebreaker). This is the first look at the Cowboys needs, players that fit those needs, and likely selections.
Their biggest needs are on defense. They have huge need along the defensive front (DT and DE) and Safety (no new story here) as well as depth at LB. On offense they will likely focus along the line again, specifically interior (C and RG) and perhaps look at replacing Doug Free. In my opinion I think they should consider backups for some of their aging players (that can develop and eventually start) namely Jason Witten and Tony Romo (not to say these guys aren’t starter for 3 or 4 years but someone to develop behind them).
This draft class is especially deep along the defensive line so that should be promising. I could give you 10 names of guys they could take in the first round and not be upset with any of them. But I would like to go a different route. There is a TE from Notre Dame, Tyler Eifert (6’6” 251) who is easily the top TE and projects as a late first rounder. John Phillips is a Free Agent and could be let go with Eifert as the first selection. That gives the Cowboys a legitimate replacement for Witten and a strong #2 until the time comes. It is hard to pass up on a talent like his, but if they do not select him then I completely expect a DE/DT here.
Even if they select a DE in the first round there are some very talented players in the second that could be big contributors at NT. Someone that I particularly like here is Jesse Williams NT from Alabama. He is a big body (6’4” 320lbs) and was a stud player on one of the nation’s top defenses. There are similar players that would be available but not who have contributed as much as Williams on a defense as good as Alabama’s.
I still think they could address interior offensive line, but they will stick with Costa, and Livings got a 4 year deal (Bernadeau got 2 years so he may be on the outs but I think they keep him around and then address it the following year when his contract is up)…either way a Guard would be a solid addition if it is someone that projects as an immediate starter, a la David DeCastro, is available. I wouldn’t mind seeing them take a RT in the second; I think there will be some value guys in the second round that can replace Doug Free.
There are some very intriguing WRs that would be available then but I really hope they don’t waste a pick that high on a WR, Bryant And Austin are good if not inconsistent (when healthy), Duane Harris really showed that he can be the answer as the #3 WR/PR/KR, I like Beasley in a developmental role and 4th WR and I am still holding hope that Holmes can develop. They still have Danny Coale who they like on the practice squad, consider this a redshirt year. I think they have potential at WR with the current roster, so I hope they stay away from that unless there is a value pick in the 3rd or 4th.
I think they should really start looking for a developmental QB. In the 2012 draft, I was high on taking Nick Foles in the 3rd (I might have taken him in the late 2nd) and you could see his potential against the Cowboys and at the end of the season, he could have used more development time but the Eagles were so terrible they had no choice. Unfortunately for the 2013 draft I am not seeing anyone jump out at me like that kid. There are some guys with intrigue but I think they will all be valued way too high and not worth it. I have seen a pretty solid mock that has them taking Landry Jones in the 3rd round I would be okay with that but not excited (6’4” 220, completes over 63% of his passes; 4 year starter; solid TD/INT ratio; underperformed for the talented OU team around him). There is a kid at NC State that looks promising Mike Glennon, but his stock is rising and may be valued too high (although his less than stellar bowl performance could bring him down a bit). Something I look at is a QB with size (Glennon is 6’6” 230) accuracy (two yr starter completing over 62% of his passes; for comparison Eli Manning completes 61.5% of his passes for his NFL career which is higher than his college = 60.5%; over 60% is solid and generally accuracy improves in the NFL), and intelligence (on an average team he had 31 TDs and 12 INTs last year and he has 22 TDs and 13 INTs on a worse team this year, good ratios when he doesn’t play on an elite team; better ratio than Jones who plays on a great OU team). Another player I have seen them linked with is Zac Dysert. 6’4” 228 from Miami (OH), 4 year starter completed 64% of his passes for a bad team 2:1 TD to INT ratio over final two seasons. Progressing QB could be a guy to sit and learn for two years. I think they could get Jones or Dysert in the 3rd or Glennon (but he may be a 2nd rounder), I would be okay with any of these.
They still need a safety but there is no one who jumps out at me. There is a safety from Alabama (Robert Lester 6’2” 210, 4.49) that projects more of a FS in the NFL (compared to Mark Barron who was SS only) and might be a value pick in middle rounds. Otherwise I am not big on anyone right now. Still waiting on Matt Johnson but I think he has something, would like to see Johnson and the Bama kid as starters next year, big, fast, ball-hawking and good run defenders. Of course Barry Church will be back and he is promising, but I have never been high on Sensabaugh as a coverage safety. In Rob Ryan’s defense having two guys on both sides that are interchangeable is important.
My Cowboys hopeful draft:
1st round-Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame
2nd round-Jesse Williams NT Alabama
3rd round-Robert Lester S Alabama
4th round-Landry Jones/Zac Dysert QB. Glennon will be taken too high. Jones may not make it to the 4th but I suspect Dysert will.
Day 3: best available/position fills (I expect LBs and O-line)
Cowboys Likely Draft:
Day 3: more depth guys, I don’t expect them to make any reaches here. RKGs (Right Kind of Guy)